2 thoughts on “Inverted word order: How to begin a sentence in German”

  1. Helpful video, yet there are a couple of points I would like to raise as a German tutor and native speaker.
    First of all, some of the examples, while (barely) grammatical, are extremely unnatural, e.g. “Nein, zu blühen fangen die Blumen auf der Wiese an”. The simple reason why this sentence sounds unnatural and is only borderline grammatical is that infinitive clauses that are triggered by certain verbs- in a manner that is very similar to English- have to send “zu” followed by the infinitive of the verb to the end. So, to rephrase the sentence: “Nein, die Blumen fangen an (trigger), auf der Wiese zu blühen”. Of course, I understand what you tried to show, i.e. the principle of inversion, but this example contradicts all the rules of infinitive clauses and is therefore not a good one. If you’re interested, a more detailed explanation on those rules can be found here: https://www.olesentuition.co.uk/single-post/with-zu-or-without-infinitive-clauses-and-modal-verbs-in-german
    Second, and related to the previous point, you need to emphasise more strongly that inversions are only used for reasons of emphasis. While it is perfectly possible to say “Seiner Freundin schenkte Max einen Blumenstrauß” with the dative (indirect object) positioned at the start to emphasise that the bouquet was gifted to his girlfriend/female friend as opposed to anyone else, the standard word order would have the subject first and read “Max schenkte seiner Freundin einen Blumenstrauß”. This difference between standard word order and placing any other information (time, location, one of the objects- as in this example) at the start for reasons of emphasis is particularly important in spoken German. Many of my clients struggle to read endings correctly, especially the common combination of the letters “er” and would pronounce this as “Seine Freundin schenkt Max einen Blumenstrauß”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in favour of feminism all the way, but you probably understand that the meaning would be completely different because now the girlfriend/female friend- as the subject- would give the bunch of flowers to Max. By the way, to get the pronunciation right, I usually advise my students to think of the English word “air” when they try to pronounce the “er” ending (i.e. “seinair” Freundin…). This normally does the trick. If you want to read more on how the inversions/emphases are being used, you might want to read my blog posts on word order (https://www.olesentuition.co.uk/single-post/german-word-order-explained) and the cases (https://www.olesentuition.co.uk/single-post/der-die-das-explaining-the-cases-in-german)
    Nonetheless, this is a helpful video, which I’ll recommend to my students. Thank you!

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